By Shaye Baker
We recently discussed when and where to look for spawning bass. Today, we’re going to talk about the baits you’ll need to target those bedders when you find them.
Bass of all breeds spawn during the spring. The spawn refers to the season when bass create beds and lay their eggs in an effort to perpetuate their species. This process puts bass shallow and in relatively fixed positions, making them easy to target.
Bed fishing is the act of fishing for a bass that is on bed— simple enough. But there are two ways to do this: visibly looking at the bass on the bed or fishing for bass that you believe are on bed but cannot see. The former is known as sight fishing, the latter is blind bed fishing. And there are certain baits that work best depending on which approach you take. So let’s run through some of those today.
Light Texas rig -
Simply put, a light Texas rig is the best all-around presentation for targeting bedding bass, no matter whether you can see them or not. Bass are very protective of their beds and will eat or try to runoff any perceived threat. Tossing a Texas-rigged soft plastic over into a bed leads the bass to believe a bluegill, crawfish or other predator is trying to eat their soon-to-be offspring.
If you’re blind bed fishing, you’ll want to pick a natural bait color. This will be the best way to trick a bass into believing the threat is real. If you can see the fish on the bed however, and you’re actively sight fishing, you can either use a natural color bait or a white bait. With a white bait, you’ll be able to see whether the bait is in the bed or not, and you’ll be able to see the bait disappear if and when the bass eats it.
Great baits for bed fishing -
So what type of soft plastic do you put on your Texas rig? Well there aren’t many wrong answers here, just some that are better than others. A soft plastic lizard is perhaps the best bait for bedding bass. For some reason, they hate these things and will eat them faster than anything else. Small craw-style baits are also extremely effective. Tubes are another great choice. And then soft plastic stick baits work really well too.
If you’re looking at the fish, using something small and white works well, so that the bass can eat the whole bait easily and you can see it disappear completely before setting the hook. But if you’re blind fishing more by feel, again a lizard is really hard to beat, with a stick bait being a close runner-up. Both of these baits cast well, can be easily drug through cover to where you believe the bed is and then can be fished slowly or left to sit in the bed until the bass is agitated enough to bite.
Additional techniques -
In addition to the Texas rig, dropshots, wacky rigs, shaky heads, Ned rigs and finesse jigs are all great selections. Most of these techniques are better suited for blind bed fishing, where a Texas rig works well for blind fishing and sight fishing. A dropshot for instance can be pitched to a target like a stump where you believe a bass may be bedding, and can be fished in place to see if a bass is actually there.
A wacky rig is great for skipping under cover where you believe a bass may be bedding, and it’s slow fall helps force you to keep it in the strikezone long enough for a potential bedder to eat it. Ned rigs, shaky heads and finesse jigs are all great for fishing seawalls, bluff walls and 45- degree banks where spotted bass and smallmouth may be bedding a little deeper. These baits fall quickly, fall straight down and can be fished very slowly, all critical when trying to target bass that are spawning in deeper water.
In conclusion -
Using soft plastic baits to target bedding bass is an extremely effective way to get bit during the spawn. Spawning bass will defend their beds, even if they aren’t hungry. So dragging a Texas rig, shaky head, dropshot or otherwise rigged soft plastic lure into their beds drives them to attack, eventually. Be patient, fish slow and use baits that you can keep in the bed. That’s about all there is to it.